The Weirdness and Wyrdness of Lunar Leadership

The Weirdness and Wyrdness of Lunar Leadership December 14, 2023

Despite the sun still being in Sagittarius, by my reckoning today begins the next Cold Lunation, and because this year is in Full-Moon-Leadership, the New Moon in Capricorn on December 14, 2023 kicks off that magick of balancing home and public life. There’s a lot in that first sentence that could be confusing. Mostly because I’ve been exploring weird lunar tides by zodiacal pairing. I wrote more about that in my last blog. I’ve not found much written on this kind of lunar witchcraft. I’m discovering that I don’t even know what to call some of these patterns I’m finding. So, I’m over here inventing new vocabulary words to describe these concepts. Maybe this blog can crowd-source some feedback.

This kind of Lunar Witchcraft might be weird. It names whole lunations by the full moon in the middle, divides dark and new moon into separate phases (making nine total), works the magick of lunar pairings, tracks the trading lunar leadership after blue and black moons, and then noticed the really cool, wyrd thing…no matter how you slice this moonpie, you begin and end in the same sign as the sun.

Lunar Witchcraft by the Zodiac

This entire system of lunar magick I’m trying to talk about here is based in astrology. It cares which zodiac sign and phase the moon is in, and from which angular relationship the moon is receiving light from the sun. This makes certain times magickally auspicious. To talk about this system, just forget what calendar month anything happens. Magick doesn’t give a flying fig what a Pope named the month you’re in. Yes, this is the hill I will die on! So for the rest of this conversation, assume that all my naming and timing conventions are based on astrology, and not the Gregorian Calendar, even if that conflicts with what the Llewellyn Witches’ Datebook says.

Please allow me to define a few terms…

Dark and New Moons are Two Separate Phases

First things first… for magickal purposes, the moon’s cycle has at least nine distinct phases. So many sources focus on eight phases, but the lunar number is nine! The ninth sephiroth Yesod on the Qabalah tree of life is the moon’s domain. 3 x 3 = 9 is big deal in a witch’s moon-led magick! The obvious fix is that the Dark Moon and New Moon are two distinct phases astrologically, historically, and magickally. For example, Hellenistic magick for Hecate has distinct rituals for dark and new moons, defining them similarly to what I have below.

Dark Moon =  Sun and moon 0° conjunct in the same sign. Magick for waning obstacles, integration, transmutation, and divination to understand the past. It is best performed up until moment of exact conjunction. You cannot see the moon in the night sky at all; hence, DARK.

New Moon = Sun and Moon are now 12° apart, moon enters next sign. First night you can see a wee sliver of new crescent moon setting near the horizon at dusk; hence, NEW. Waxing Magick for setting new intentions, new growth, divination for the future, prayers, offerings, etc.

Waning Crescent = Balsamic Moon This is another name for this last phase of the cycle just before we enter another Dark Moon phase. According to Astrologer Dane Rudhyar, the Balsamic moon was “the final letting go of the seed of the cycle about to end.” It was a good time to send your intentions and needs for the next cycle along with Mama Luna before she entered the “sanctuary of the solar realm” during the dark phase.  Rudhyar’s theory was that those needs were carried upon the smoke of burning of Balsam wood, and maybe that is the source of the name. [1]

New Moon in Capricorn, December 14, 2023. Taken just after sunset.

Naming Lunations for the Full Moon at the Middle

Lunation = lunar “month” time period spanning of all the phase of the moon, typically counted from dark moon conjunction at 0° to the next conjunction at 0°. So that I don’t have to use the names of calendar months to describe which time of year it is, I’ve started naming the whole lunation for the full moon that is celebrated at it’s peak, but I’m talking about the whole 2 weeks of waxing and 2 weeks of waning period. The fly in the ointment is that depending on the year, and lunar leadership, the beginning and end phases of a lunation will differ.

For example: the Cold Moon Lunation that pairs Capricorn and Cancer. On December 14, 2023 (today, as of first posting) is the New Moon phase in Capricorn, which precedes the Full Moon in Cancer. The Llewellyn Witches’ Datebook calls that the “Cold Full Moon,” and here in the Northern Hemisphere it is pretty cold right now. Yes, the sun is still in Sagittarius right this minute, but this phase kicks off the two week waxing cycle leading to Cold Full Moon in Cancer, then two weeks of waning cycle after that we’ll conclude the lunation with the Dark Moon conjunct the sun in Capricorn.

Note how the lunation both began and ended in Capricorn. Also note that the Dark Moon in the pairing fell at the END of the lunation. That is because right now, at the end of 2o23, we are in the larger Full-Moon-Leadership cycle, but we’ll circle back around to that definition.

Cold Lunation in Nine Phases During Full Moon and Dark Moon Leadership Cycles, Graphic by Heron Michelle

Zodiacal Pairings

This whole system I’m working on is based on the pairings of signs across the zodiac from each other. Each anchor an end of a “thematic polarity,” as author Ivo Dominguez Jr. calls them in Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans. Those six thematic polarities form a range of human consciousness we can work on, two issues at a time. But I already wrote that blog here. But for our purposes here, the six zodiac pairings across the wheel match polarity, modality, and are coupled by either water/earth signs, or air/fire signs. During Full moons, you get the powers of both signs in opposition. During Dark Moons you get the power of one of the signs in conjunction. They are:

  1. Aries ♉︎ and Libra ♎︎
  2. Taurus ♉︎ and Scorpio ♏︎
  3. Gemini ♊︎ and Sagittarius ♐︎
  4. Cancer ♋︎ and Capricorn ♑︎
  5. Leo ♌︎ and Aquarius ♒︎
  6. Virgo ♍︎ and Pisces ♓︎

Basically, I took a hard look at how the dark and full moons fell in relationship to each other within the zodiac pairings, and then the order they showed up throughout each wheel of the year. That’s when it got a weird…

Lunar Leadership

I made up this term “Lunar Leadership” because I can’t find official terminology for this concept in any of my references. I’d love to know what better term describes the order in which the dark and full moons show up within a pairing over these larger cycles. Here’s how I define them:

Full-Moon-Leadership: Lunar cycles when the Full Moon in a zodiacal pairing precedes the Dark Moon in that pairing. New Moon begins the lunation, and Dark moon ends the lunation.

Dark-Moon-Leadership: Lunar cycles when the Dark moon in a zodiacal pairing precedes the Full Moon in that pairing. Dark Moon begins the lunation, and Balsamic Moon ends the lunation.

Blue Moon triad in 2024 changes the Lunar Leadership to Dark-Moon-Led, Hand-rendered by Heron Michelle

Lunar Leadership Switches at Blue and Black Moons

It was a gobsmacking day when I realized that the Full and Dark moons traded leadership from year to year. How had I made it through nigh on 25 years of witchcraft and not noticed it before? Goes to show you’re never too old or too pointy-hatted to learn something Craft-shattering. First, a few more definitions:

Wheel of the Year: One Luni-Solar year counted from Winter Solstice to Winter Solstice, within which 8 solar sabbats divide the four seasons, and celebrate the cycles of birth, growth, decline, death and rest. There are 12-13 lunar esbats which navigate the inner tides of consciousness from spiritual union through material separation back to spiritual reunion. <repeat>

Standard Year: Typically, there is one full moon and one dark moon to fall while the sun crosses through each zodiac sign. 12 zodiac signs, 12 full moons, 12 dark moons within a Wheel of the Year.

Blue Moon Year: However, every 2.5 years or so, a very auspicious second full moon falls within the same sign. It is called the Blue Moon and is the basis for the saying “once in a blue moon” because it is special, and makes a very witchy 13th moon that wheel! Blue moon forms a triad within that zodiac pairing, wherein there will be two Full moons surrounding one dark moon in the middle. (see image above) This triad trades the order of Lunar Leadership to Dark-Moon-Led. The next Blue Moon is in Capricorn on July 20, 2024.

Black Moon Year: Every 2.5 years or so, an even more auspicious, second dark moon falls within the same sign. It is called the Black Moon. This Black Moon also forms a triad within that zodiac pairing, with two dark moons surrounding one full moon in the middle. This triad trades the order back to Full-Moon-Leadership. We celebrated a Black Moon in Aries on April 20th, 2023, so we are currently in a Full Moon Leadership cycle.

There are much larger cycles of how the blue, black and standard years fall in a pattern within the 19 year Lunisolar Metonic Cycle, but I’ll just save that juicy tidbit for another blog. Stay tuned!

Wyrdness in the Phase Order of a Paired Lunation

The thrilling plot twist to this story is illustrated in that graphic above – yes I added it twice. It took me quite some time to figure out how to present the magick of this kind of Lunar Witchcraft in my new book manuscript. If the order of Lunar Leadership keeps changing year to year, that doesn’t make for consistent chapters! <gripe>

Some years the dark moon ritual comes first. Some years the Full moon ritual comes first. However, I’m designing a lunar practice that wants to navigates the tides of life throughout the entire lunation of waxing and waning tides. I crave some kind of cohesive system that has an initiation (cardinal), peak (fixed), and conclusion (mutable) to the magickal work. Please note the cool, magickally wyrd thing illustrated above.

During Full-Moon-led periods like the one we’re are living in RIGHT NOW, starting on the NEW MOON December 14, 2023, we begin the Cold Lunation. Yes, the sun is still shining in Sagittarius, but this new moon is in CAPRICORN. The Full Cold Moon in Cancer is on December 26th, 2023. When the lunation concludes, the Moon and Sun are both conjunct at Dark Moon in CAPRICORN, on January 11, 2024! During a Cold Lunation you’ll meet a lunar goat both coming and going, and party with a crab in the middle!

However, next year, during the Dark-Moon-Led cycle, that Cold Lunation begins at the DARK MOON in CAPRICORN on December 30, 2024, is full in Cancer on January 13, 2025, and wraps up at the Balsamic Moon ALSO IN CAPRICORN January 27th, 2025!

Moral of the Story:

Regardless of whether the Full or Dark Moons are leading these lunar pairings, the lunation that celebrates them will both begin and end with the moon in the same sign as the sun of that pairing. Rarely is there something easy or predictable in Witchcraft. I take this lovely symmetry as a sign that this kind of lunar witchcraft has something valuable to offer. Imma just keep following my wyrd down this rabbit hole for a while longer.

Lunation Dates and Signs by Lunar Leadership Cycle

The following table illustrates how during a Full-Moon-led cycle the initiating New Moon phase and concluding Dark Moon phase of each lunation are both within the zodiac pairing, same sign as the sun. Use these dates to plan your own Lunar Witchcraft by zodiac pairing!

Full-Moon-Led Lunation Cycle April 2023 – July 2024

Lunations New Moon Full Moon Dark Moon
Black Moon Switches Leadership April 20, 2023 ♈︎
Flower April 21, 2023 ♉︎ May 5, 2023 ♏︎ May 19, 2023 ♉︎
Strong Sun May 21, 2023 ♊︎ June 3, 2023 ♐︎ June 18, 2023 ♊︎
Blessing June 20, 2023 ♋︎ July 3, 2023 ♑︎ July 17, 2023 ♋︎
Corn July 19, 2023 ♌︎ August 1, 2023 ♒︎ August 15/16, 2023 ♌︎
Harvest August 18, 2023 ♍︎ August 30, 2023 ♓︎ September 14, 2023 ♍︎
Blood September 16, 2023 ♎︎ September 28, 2023 ♈︎ October 14, 2023 ♎︎
Mourning October 16 2023 ♏︎ October 28, 2023 ♉︎ November 13, 2023 ♏︎
Long nights November 15, 2023 ♐︎ November 27, 2023 ♊︎ December 12, 2023 ♐︎
Cold Moon December 14, 2023 ♑︎ December 26, 2023 ♋︎ January 10/11, 2024 ♑︎
Quickening January 12, 2024 ♒︎ January 25, 2024 ♌︎ February 9, 2024 ♒︎
Storm February 11, 2024 ♓︎ February 23, 2024 ♍︎ March 10, 2024 ♓︎
Wind March 12, 2024 ♈︎ March25, 2024 ♎︎ April 8, 2024 ♈︎
Flower April 10, 2024 ♉︎ April 23, 2024 ♏︎ May 7, 2024 ♉︎
Strong Sun May 9, 2024 ♊︎ May 23, 2024 ♐︎ June 6, 2024 ♊︎
Blessing June 8, 2023 ♋︎ June 21, 2024 ♑︎ July 5, 2024 ♋︎
Blue moon Switches Leadership July 7, 2024 ♌︎ July 20/21, 2024 ♑︎

This second table continues to show the Dark-Moon-Led cycle that initiates each lunation with the Dark Moon phase and concludes at the Balsamic Moon (waning crescent) phase, and yet both are STILL within the zodiac pairing, same sign as the sun!

Dark-Moon-Led Lunation Cycle August 2024 – September 2025

Lunation Dark Moon
Full Moon
Balsamic Moon
Corn August 3, 2024 ♌︎ August 19, 2024 ♒︎ August 31, 2024 ♌︎
Harvest September 2, 2024 ♍︎ September 17, 2024 ♓︎ September 30, 2024 ♍︎
Blood October 2, 2024 ♎︎ October 16, 2024 ♈︎ October 30, 2024 ♎︎
Mourning November 1, 2024 ♏︎ November 15, 2024 ♉︎ November 29, 2024 ♏︎
Long nights Dec 1, 2024 ♐︎ December 15, 2024 ♊︎ December 28, 2024 ♐︎
Cold Moon December 30, 2024 ♑︎ January 13, 2025 ♋︎ January 27, 2025 ♑︎
Quickening January 29, 2025 ♒︎ February 12, 2025 ♌︎ February 25, 2025 ♒︎
Storm February 27, 2025 ♓︎ March 14, 2025 ♍︎ March 27, 2025 ♓︎
Wind March 29, 2025 ♈︎ April 12, 2023 ♎︎ April 25, 2025 ♈︎
Flower April 27, 2025 ♉︎ May 12, 2025 ♏︎ May 24, 2025 ♉︎
Strong Sun May 26, 2025 ♊︎ June 11, 2025 ♐︎ June 23, 2025 ♊︎
Blessing June 25, 2025 ♋︎ July 10, 2025 ♑︎ July 22, 2025 ♋︎
Corn July 24, 2025 ♌︎ August 9, 2025 ♒︎ August 21, 2025 ♌︎
Harvest August 23, 2025 ♍︎ Sept 7, 2025 ♓︎ Black Moon ends lunation
Black Moon Switches Leadership September 21, 2025 ♍︎

I welcome any feedback, resource recommendations, or anecdotes in the comments on how you’ve been working these tides. Big thanks to author Ivo Dominguez, Jr. for the original inspiration to pursue this course of study. It really rocked my witching world! Go read his book Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans.

Capricorn-Cancer Lunar Pairing Candle Wrap Image by Heron Michelle

I prepared these Capricorn-Cancer pairing candles for magickal use during this Cold lunation and the Blessing Lunation and posted the video to my YouTube channel talking about the process. They are still available for purchase and shipping within the USA.

[1] Rudhyar, Dane. The Lunation Cycle: A Key to the Understanding of Personality. Sante Fe, NM: Aurora Press, 1982. Page 27

About Heron Michelle
Heron Michelle (Greenville, NC) is a mom, shopkeeper, modern witch, and priestess. Owner of The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions ( since 2009. She writes the blog 'Witch on Fire' at Patheos Pagan and is the author of "Elemental Witchcraft: A Guide to Living a Magickal Life Through the Elements" published Dec. 2021 by Llewellyn Worldwide. Connect with her at You can read more about the author here.
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